Like my colleagues at the immigration bar, I hear a lot of depressing stories. It's a defense mechanism, I suppose, to not empathize after you've heard dozens, if not hundreds, of such stories. But sometimes, as one of my colleagues put it, there's a fleeting moment when you feel some facsimile of the horror your client felt, and it puts it into perspective. Lawyers obviously have to be objective - but we can't lose our humanity in the process. The trick is to use that empathy as fuel for constructing a winning argument.
This happened to me recently on two asylum cases from Syria.